THE GIFT – DECEMBER 2020
Gift – noun – something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned.
Lately, I’ve been reading a fascinating book, “The Lonely Man of Faith,” by the eminent Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. In reflecting on the two accounts of the creation of man in the book of Genesis, the rabbi has given me a great gift: he has caused me to think. Why would God feel it necessary to recount the story of Adam and Eve twice? If we accept the axiom that all scripture is inerrant, then there must be a reason for the two accounts.
Rabbi Soloveitchik refers to the first creation as “Adam the first” and the second as “Adam the second.” I will call them “Adam One” and “Adam Two” simply because it’s easy to read. Please understand I’m not concerned only with the human male. In my opinion, the attributes of creation belong to both men and women.
In Genesis chapter one, we are told that God created man and woman in His image, and He commands them to subdue the earth and have dominion over every living thing. Being made in the image of God, Adam One expresses himself through his creativity. Throughout history, he has obeyed God’s command to subdue the earth. He invents the wheel to conquer distance, the printing press to overcome illiteracy, medical advances to eradicate disease, and machines to provide convenience, power, and even light. Adam One is majestic in his influence over nature.
But then there’s the second account of creation in Genesis chapter two. In this story, man is created from the dust of the ground. He does not become a living creature until God breathes the breath of life into him. God places Adam Two in the Garden of Eden and orders him not to conquer it, but to keep it. Then God establishes the first human relationship when Eve is created from Adam.
Where Adam One is dominant and triumphant, Adam Two is more introspective and concerned with his relationship with his wife and his relationship with God. He longs to understand his place in the universe while Adam One wants to control it. If Adam One is a creator, Adam Two knows himself to be the created. Adam One is defined by power. Adam Two is defined by humility and awe.
In our culture, we applaud the accomplished, successful Adam One, a scientifically-minded individual who looks at the world as a set of practical problems to solve and realities to conquer. However, Adam Two may offer the world something equally as important, but more subtle. Adam Two knows that we are not in total control of our own destiny. Perhaps we can dominate for a period of time, but in the end, each of us will return to dust. Adam Two seeks to understand the meaning of it all, and he senses the need for redemption.
Perhaps the two accounts in Genesis are the essence of one of God’s gifts to us. It’s easy to see that each of us has the nature and conflict of both Adam One and Adam Two within us. While we have an instinctive need to create, we know that we are the creation. While we have a notion to control, we long for understanding. Perhaps God intended us to wrestle with this dichotomy and establish a harmony between our two natures.
Using this knowledge, the writer can fashion his or her own gift to the world. The ability to hone our craft in order to capture the heart and mind of the reader is our Adam One. But we have the further responsibility to provide substance with our entertainment. Our Adam Two wants the reader to think while enjoying a well-crafted story. If we can blend these two parts of our nature and our writing into one, we will have taken our gift and multiplied it to a needy world.
How will you use your gifts in 2021?
Karen, Thanks for stopping by. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a thoughtful and happy new year!
Interesting take on the creation of humanity…and I love your last sentence…”If we can blend these two parts of our nature and our writing into one, we will have taken our gift and multiplied it to a needy world.” The Gift we offer to our readers and beyond has nothing to do with selling our stories, does it?
Deb, thanks for stopping by and for your comment.
I agree that our job is to deliver something deeper than an entertaining story, although having the reader enjoy the experience is important too. My goal is to get my books in the hands of readers. As a new author in this highly competitive world of writing, that’s not easy to do, but it’s a worthy mission.
Looking forward to your book!
Thank you for that interesting insight into Genesis, Kay. We were created with a very complex nature, perfectly balanced. With the fall into sin, that changed. Now we find ourselves struggling to return to that balance, but we can only approach it through God’s grace while still on this earth. As always, we depend wholly on God.
God has given each of us many gifts. We can keep them to ourselves, and gain nothing. Or, we can look for opportunities to share them with others. I’m asking God to guide me to use mine wisely and generously in the coming year.
Merry Christmas to all.
P,S. I recognized the “inside” view of Saturn’s rings right off. It comes from my lifelong interest in astronomy, and the wonders and mysteries of God’s great cosmos.
Tim, Thank you for stopping by and for your insights. I applaud your using your God-given gifts to glorify His name.
Every day I am more and more in awe of the abundance of grace God showers on us all. I had originally intended this article to focus on the larger issue of redemption, but decided to keep it within the “Craft of Writing” subject matter of my blog.
And talk about awe! What a wondrous universe. I hadn’t really thought about the confluence of Saturn and Jupiter tonight when I decided to post the article today. Interesting that the photo shows the earth from the POV of Saturn.
Merry Christmas to you!
Good afternoon, Kay!
I read your article this morning but am just now able to get to my computer to comment. First of all, what a perfect day to post this! I looked at the southwest sky last night and saw the planets, or one of them. I can’t wait to look tonight with binoculars. And the photograph you chose to head your post. It’s hard to believe that picture is real. The vastness of space is overwhelming, and I believe the Lord made it that way so we can see the incomprehensible breadth and depth of his love.
Most of all, I’m intrigued by the thoughts you shared about the facets of our nature. This is a new way to think about this for me, and I want to mull it over some more. When I read Deb Gorman’s comment about the gift we Christian writers offer (Jesus), I was reminded of a book I read last year that might be worth mentioning here, The title is The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World. Here’s the GoodReads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23564789-the-gift
Merry Christmas, Kay!
Hello Lisa! Thank you for your comments and for the book you mentioned. What a remarkable coincidence — oh, that’s right. There are no coincidences. I just ordered “The Gift.” I’ll be interested to see how the subject matter is handled there.
I have that picture as the wallpaper on my laptop. I can’t look at it without the feeling of humility and awe. Frank and I will venture out tonight to see the special sight of Jupiter and Saturn getting cozy. Fortunately, it’s a clear sky here so we should have a good night for viewing.
Thanks again for this year of friendship and growth. I’m looking forward to what 2021 will bring each of us.
Merry Christmas and shalom!
Wow. Looking at that little speck of light realty brings home the wonder of God choosing to send His Son to earth to be our Savior and knowing each of us so intimately that even the number of hairs on our head is known to him. Overwhelming 🙏💕
Good morning, Chris!
I agree with you – having this perspective of the earth is overwhelming. We have received a gift greater than any of us can really comprehend.
I haven’t read a writing article quite like this one before!
I have the feeling it’s one you can come back to again and again, and walk away with something new each time.
Thanks so much for sharing this unique perspective on creativity – and Merry Christmas!
Hello HRD! Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words.
Rabbi Soloveitchik’s book has certainly made me think a lot about the concept of creativity. I wonder if we create our works in our own image.
Best wishes to you and your family for a Merry Christmas and a safe and healthy 2021.